Director: Jayson Thiesson

Starring: Uzo Aduba, Ashleigh Ball, Emily Blunt, Kristin Chenoweth, Taye Diggs, Andrea Libman, Michael Peña, Zoe Saldana, Liev Schreiber, Sia, Tabitha St. Germain, Tara Strong, Cathy Weseluck

Release Date: In Cinemas Now

Preparations are taking place in Equestria for the very first ‘Friendship Festival’. Celebrations are cut short, however, when a dark cloud approaches Canterlot, disguising an enemy airship. A dark unicorn with a broken horn emerges and attacks the Princesses. With only Princess Twilight and her Ponyville friends lucky enough to escape, they must travel beyond their home and across new lands in search of help from the hidden tribe of hippogriffs. They come across new friends (including a surprising performance by Songbird Serenade, voiced by Sia) dangers, cultures and obstacles as they dodge the continuous pursuit by the Storm King’s forces.

As we step away from the Land of Equestria, we venture into its neighbouring lands and across the sea. Different species roam here, and there is a massive culture shock as the normality of everyday pony life becomes a distant memory. Under the tyranny of the Storm King, many kingdoms have fallen, their treasures stolen from them. Seeking out immense power and riches, instead of a kingdom to rule, the Storm King’s one track mind has blindsided him when it comes to those whom he must trust. Events escalate, bringing about a great danger that not even the Sun and Moon Princesses can defeat.

So many wonderful new characters join the world of My Little Pony, as the Mane Six set out beyond Equestria in search of help. They cross unknown lands in order to find the hippogriffs, mingle with thieves in Kluge Town, and end up targeted by bandits and hounded by a magic-seeking unicorn bent on revenge. It’s more than ponies, unicorns and pegasus that we meet in the film, as apes, feline, hippogriffs and merponies make their mark on the fandom. Twilight is also forced to come to terms with the weight of her title as the Princess of Friendship; finding her flaws and failures, admitting how wrong she was, but also showing kindness to others that they denied her.

It’s not only the artist Sia that makes her mark on the film, even though her song ‘Rainbow’ is the most memorable tune from the entire film. We also have the soon to be new Mary Poppins, Emily Blunt, voicing the troubled unicorn Tempest Shadow. The Storm King is a confusing character to read, and although terrifying, he seems to hold some respect for his ship crew. Demanding riches and surrender from those around him, he purposely avoids any friendship but still has a childlike spirit about him. He is voiced by Liev Schreiber, best known for playing Sabertooth in the 2009 X-Men Origins: Wolverine film. Sia isn’t the only professional singer to debut in the My Little Pony Movie, as Kristin Chenoweth lends her theatrical voice to Princess Skystar, a merpony. All you youngsters would know her as Maleficent from Disney’s Descendants, others would remeber her from Glee or from Broadway musical Wicked as Glinda The Good Witch. Of course, the same voice cast from the TV series returns to voice all their characters.

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The animation has certainly been changed for this animated film, but that is the norm for many cartoons that get adapted for the big screen. All you have to do is remember the feature length adaptations of The Simpsons and Rugrats movies. Given the extra time and budget dedicated to create said films, and the fact it is clearly going to be screened on a screen far bigger than one in a common sitting room, the animation has to pack a punch. Although I have my reservations about said style used in this film, it wasn’t the worst, it was just different. The characters are still the same, going through some troubled times, self growth and adventure. The film was produced by Allspark Pictures, who belong to Hasbro. It was directed by Jayson Thiessen, a Canadian animation director who also had the dual roles of supervising director and producer to the animated television series.

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I am very happy to say I got to watch this beauty in my local cinema. I hope this will be the first of many iconic shows that get to have their films hit the big screen nationwide. There is something for everyone in this film; plenty of action, singing, pirating and invasion stopping! If you are lucky to catch it in cinemas, there is a short animation screened before it to get you in the mood. Otherwise, the film is targeting a home release in the new year.

Overall: 9/10

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